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Decatur City Commission considering lowering the millage rate for second year in a row

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Decatur City Commission considering lowering the millage rate for second year in a row

Decatur City Hall.

Decatur, GA — The Decatur City Commission is considering a $39 million budget for fiscal year 2023-2024. The city commission is also considering lowering the millage rate for city taxes for a second year. 

The proposed budget is about $7.6 million higher than the revised fiscal year 2022-2023 budget, and most of the increase is related to personnel costs. The revised budget for the Fiscal Year 2022-2023 is $636,500 less than the adopted FY 2022-2023 budget, City Manager Andrea Arnold said during a Decatur City Commission work session on June 7.

City Schools of Decatur sets their own millage rate for school taxes. The Decatur School Board tentatively approved a millage rate of 21 mills. The millage rate remains unchanged compared to Fiscal Year 2023.

The city’s proposed FY 2023-2024 budget was created based on an estimated increase of 5% in the tax digest and proposes no change to the millage rate. However, the tax digest increased by 14.7% and Arnold is recommending the millage rate be decreased by 0.7 to 12.47 mills. The current millage rate is 13.17 mills.

Last year, the city commission lowered the millage rate by about the same amount, 0.75 mills. The millage rate decreased from 13.92 mills to 13.17 mills. In 2022, for a home valued at $500,000, the taxes were about $3,018 with a general homestead exemption.

“For these purposes, we are assuming a home with the same value, with the reduced millage rate, and that will be $2,856.50. That is a reduction of $161.75,” Arnold said. “That is prior to any change with the homestead exemptions. Assuming that the homestead exemptions go into effect, and we go up to $40,000 for the general homestead, that would be an additional $82 in savings.”

Taxpayers will also get a homeowners tax relief grant from the state on their tax bill. This is a homestead exemption valued at $18,000. Homeowners will see an $18,000 exemption on their fall bills for city and school taxes. For city funds, that will be an additional savings of about $188, Arnold said.

“I do believe that is a one-time exemption,” she said. “While this is less revenue at the outset from the city, it would generate a report, send it to the state, and it cost us this much to provide the $18,000 exemption, and we’ll be reimbursed. We did it years ago. That went swimmingly.”

A millage rate of 12.47 mills would generate an additional $1 million for the city and would reduce the amount of fund balance required to balance the budget. Arnold said the revenue generated would be attributed to property reassessments.

This year, residential property was 76% of the total tax digest for the city, and commercial property is 24%. Without homestead exemptions, one mill would generate about $3.1 million in revenue. For a home at a fair market value of $500,000 and a homestead exemption, one mill would generate $225 in taxes.

The city commission will hold public hearings on the millage rate on Tuesday, June 13, at 6 p.m. and Tuesday, June 20, at 11:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. The final millage rate will be set during the commission’s meeting on June 20.

All meetings will be in-person at Decatur City Hall, 509 N. McDonough Street, and virtual options are available.

To view the livestream on the city’s website, click here.

Here is the information for the Zoom links:

June 13 at 6:00 p.m.: Register at https://zoom.us/j/98625048762 or dial (929) 205-6099 (Meeting ID: 986 2504 8762)

June 20 at 11:30 a.m.: Register at https://zoom.us/j/91271847566 or dial (929) 205-6099 (Meeting ID: 912 7184 7566)

June 20 at 7:30 p.m.: Register at https://zoom.us/j/94475277689 or dial (929) 205-6099 (Meeting ID: 944 7527 7689)

Public comments can be made in person or through Zoom.

The school district will hold public hearings as well on June 8 at 10 a.m. and 6 p.m., and June 15 at 5 p.m. The Decatur School Board will hold a virtual meeting on June 15 at 5:15 p.m. to approve the final millage rate. All meetings will be held virtually and will utilize the same Zoom link. To join the meetings, click here.

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